The Chronicle of Alfonso the Emperor

Glenn Edward Lipskey

The Manuscripts

[7] Traditional descriptive and classificatory studies of the seven manuscripts have been undertaken by Luis Sánchez Belda (1) and by Cipriano Rodriguez Aniceto. (2) There exists some divergence of opinion in these respective analyses. This and other discrepancies will be discussed below. For purposes of identification of the manuscripts a system of Roman numerals will be utilized. The manuscripts are the following:

Manuscript I. BNM, MS 1505 paper, 17th century, 69 folios. This manuscript was first copied and edited by Juan de Mendoza under the following title:

Chrónica del emperador D. Alonso el séptimo, rey de Castilla y León que se halló manuescrita [sic] de letra gótica en pergamino en el archibo de la santa iglesia primada de Toledo, y escrita en vida del mismo emperador. Publícala D. Iohan de Mendoça.
The manuscript was never published. This title is found on the seventh folio, and a photocopy of the folio appears on page 236 in the appendix. The first six folios in the manuscript contain a series of notes on the chronicle. It is to be noted that the sense and the writing of this commentary appear to be different from Mendoza's. From folio nine to forty there is a Spanish translation done by Juan de Mendoza. The significance of this translation will be discussed in the following chapter. The [8] Latin text of the chronicle begins on the forty-second folio and continues to the sixty-eighth. On folio forty-two we find a short preface to the chronicle and the first part of chapter one. A photocopy of this selection can be seen on page 237 in the appendix.

Manuscript II. BNM, MS 1279, paper, 17th century, 222 folios. It is covered with green parchment and fastened with steel binding. On the cover is stated: "Chronica Ildephonsi Regis." On the title page this form is different: "Coronica Adefonsi Imperatoris." At the bottom is noted the manuscript's place of origin "Ex bibliotheca Illustris Domini Garciae Loaisa Girón, Guadalaiare Archidiaconi. Nota: este códice procede de la primitiva biblioteca de Felipe V." Photocopies of this folio and of the first two folios of the text of this manuscript appear from page 238 to page 240 in the appendix. The text of the Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris comprises the first 87 folios. The second part of the volume contains a chronicle of the Kings of Spain written by López Estúñiga. The text of this work proceeds from folio 89 to folio 120. From folio 121 to 222 there is a collection of chronicles compiled by a certain Bishop Don Pablo. In the colophon of this manuscript there is a note indicating that the book was written in Burgos, and that it was terminated in the month of September in 1571. It is also recorded in the same place that the author was Fernán Martínez who was then a public clerk in Burgos.

[9] In his analysis of the manuscripts, Rodríguez Aniceto interpreted the date in the above-mentioned colophon to be pertinent to the entire manuscript. He therefore attributes it to the sixteenth century. Sánchez Belda differs with this view and contends that the colophon pertains solely to the final text in the manuscript, the chronicles gathered together by the Bishop Don Pablo.

In his introductory notes to the Spanish translation of the chronicle, Juan de Mendoza observes that this manuscript may be closely related to the original. He bases this hypothesis on information that García Loaysa Girón removed the original manuscript from the Cathedral in Toledo. After an extensive paleographic analysis of this document, Luis Sánchez Belda concludes that Loaysa removed a copy of the original, and this manuscript is, in effect, a copy of the one removed. (3) His examination reveals that the document pertains to a period after the time of Loaysa, and he therefore attributes it to the seventeenth century. Berganza utilized this manuscript for his edition of the chronicle in his Antigüedades de España. (4)

Manuscript III. BNM, MS 9327, paper, 16th century, 61 folios. On the cover of the manuscript we find, the following words written in elaborate calligraphy: "Incipit Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris." Photocopies of the cover folio and of the first two pages are found from page 241 to page 243 in the appendix.

Rodríguez Aniceto describes this manuscript and insists that it is a direct copy of MS IV. Sánchez Belda also finds [10] a distinct resemblance between the two manuscripts. However, he does not share the opinion of Rodriguez Aniceto that MS III is a direct facsimile of MS IV. (5) In his edition of the chronicle in the Antigüedades de España, Berganza makes reference to a manuscript in the Cathedral of Toledo. He mentions that the copyist's errors in the rendition of this document had been corrected by a Doctor Siruela. MS III bears marginal notes by a certain Doctor Siruela. It is to be adduced therefore that Berganza is alluding to the document under discussion. Sanchez Belda believes that it occupies a position of considerable significance in relation to the others. He submits that it was transcribed from an earlier manuscript which is now lost. This one was an archetype for the copies now in existence. (6)

Manuscript IV. The library in the Cathedral of Toledo, MS27-26, paper, 16th century, 71 folios. It is found within one of the collections of chronicles compiled by Bishop Juan Bautista Pérez. This particular collection is the only one in which the Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris is contained. Pérez includes a small number of marginal notes,

Manuscript V. BNM, MS 8190, paper, 57 folios. Sánchez Belda dates this manuscript from the sixteenth century, while Rodríguez Aniceto places it in the seventeenth. For some unknown reason the latter critic also states that there is a note of origin in the text which indicates that this volume comes from the library of King Philip the Fifth. There is no such note to be found in the manuscript. It is probable that Rodríguez Aniceto mistook this document for MS IV wherein the [11] above annotation of origin is to be found. He may also have confused it with MS 897 from the Biblioteca Nacional of Madrid which comprises a small fragment of the Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris. The contents of this item are merely the preface of the chronicle and the first paragraph. There are accompanying annotations and a note of origin which relates the small text to the library of Philip the Fifth. On folio three of this fragment, authorship is attributed to José Pellicer y Tovar. Sánchez Belda observes that what text is conserved of the chronicle is identical to MS III. Perhaps Pellicer initiated the task of transcribing this text and simply did not continue his endeavors.

Manuscript VI. BNM, MS 1376, paper, 48 folios numbered from 225 to 272. Other critics have analyzed this document and have offered a description of it prior to the studies of Rodríguez Aniceto and Sánehez Belda. Ewald dates this manuscript from the seventeenth century, (7) as does also Rodríguez Aniceto. (8) However, García Villada (9) and Benito Sánchez Alonso (10) place it in the sixteenth century. Sánchez Belda concurs with the latter judgment, and further agrees with García Villada that MS VI is a facsimile of MS IV lacking only the marginal notes of Pérez. (11)

Manuscript VII. BNM, MS 51, paper, 423 folios. The Chronica Adefonsi Imperatoris appears from folio 167 to 242. It was copied in the eighteenth century, and there is little doubt that it belongs to the family of manuscripts completed [12] by III and IV respectively. Francisco Santos Coco offers the most comprehensive description of this document, (12) especially insofar as he correctly establishes the eighteenth century as its time of transcription rather than the year 1600, which was accepted prior to his study.

MS I is the only one which offers a complete division of chapters. It is the most exact in regard to the dates of events mentioned in the chronicle. However, it shows carelessness in its orthography.

Sánchez Belda contends that MS I resolves certain textual problems. (13) He admits that the copyist does omit some words, but he considers these omissions not essential to the meaning of the respective passages.

In his critical edition and study Rodríguez Aniceto directs his consideration specifically to the Poem of Almería and disregards the prose content of the chronicle. For this reason his textual references pertain exclusively to the poem. Like Sánchez Belda he recognizes the omissions and alterations in MS I. He also calls attention to the lack of concordance between MSS I and IV. He substantiates the fact that the former text omits the following verses from the Poem of Almería: (14) 132, 161, 175, 177, 263, 264, 272, 280 and 284. Also absent are the words "pro" in verse 356, "in excelsis" in verse 365, and "et" in 366. MS I postifxes "sunt" after "armati" in verse 355, and it replaces "te tardum" with "tardum te" in 388. These variations and omisssions do not occur in MS IV. It is logical to assume therefore that IV is not a copy of I.

[13] Even though Rodríguez Aniceto and Sánchez Belda both cite numerous omissions in MS I, they both concur in that it renders a more unequivocal reading in light of the overall text. The former scholar exemplifies this claim with the following textual comparisons:

MS I: Nec possunt visum mergi vel ad aethera sursum Suspendi; vita scelerata fuit quia victa.

MS IV: Nec possunt visum mergi vel ad aethera sursum Suspendi victa, escelerata fuit quia victa.

This example is taken from the first two verses of stanza 10 of the Poem of Almería.

Both Sánchez Belda and Rodríguez Aniceto adopt the version as presented in MS I for their Latin critical editions. In the case of MS IV the term "viota" in place of "vita" is a conspicuous example of inaccurate Latin syntax and the resultant absence of meaning appears in that verse. It is evident that MS I in this instance offers a more plausible rendition within the context of the poem. "Vita" is clearly a noun modified by the adjective "scelerata", i.e., "They were defeated ("victa") because of their criminal life: "vita scelerata."

The second textual comparison given by Rodríguez Aniceto refers to stanza 35:

MS I: Ut vix jam teneri possent a matre teneri.

MS IV: Ut vix jam teneri possent armati teneri.

In this example MS I provides the logical and more poetic reading: the youths "can hardly be held back by their mother(s)." In MS IV the verse suffers a metathetic change: [14] "a matre" becomes "armati," and thus a plural past participle takes the place of the prepositional phrase. In the events narrated in this segment of the poem, the frenetic enthusiasm of the Christian forces eager for battle is dramatically depicted. Clearly, the reading offered by MS I is more congruous within the context of this moving episode.

Sánchez Belda gathers MSS III, IV, V, VI and VII into a group of common origin. (15) He places MS III at the head of this group and maintains that it is a copy of a manuscript made in the fourteenth or fifteenth century in Toledo but now lost. This document was in turn a direct reproduction of the original according to Sánchez Belda's paleographio inferences.

He bases his conclusion on the fact that all of these manuscripts share the same omissions in the preface. Also, this same family of documents reveals multilateral orthographic traits. In all of them "retro" is given in place of "recto," and "postea" appears instead of "post eam" in paragraph 1. In paragraph 6 "Sarriam" is given in place of "Ceiam." Likewise, in paragraph 8 "perfecit" is written instead of "perfecerunt." The consistent subrogation of these forms within this group of manuscripts sustains Sánchez Belda's claim for common origin. He further sees MSII as a reproduction of two other documents: MS III and another one no longer in existence. He concludes that this lost text along with I and III are all duplicates of the above-mentioned Toledan archetype from the fourteenth or fifteenth century.

Rodríguez Aniceto emphasizes the relative independence [15] of MS IV. This conclusion is of course not in conformity with Sánchez Belda's studies. We have seen that he finds IV a facsimile of III. Rodríguez Aniceto views IV as a reproduction of an earlier document related to the original rather than a facsimile of MS III. Be also contends that MSS I and III respectively served as prototypes for II. Sánchez Belda is careful not to relate II and I rather, he places I in an independent category. Both critics concur in regard to the prominence of MSS I and III as being most closely associated with the original.

Notes for Chapter 1

1. Sánchez Belda, Chron. Ad. Imp., pp. lxxi-lxxxiv.

2. Cipriano Rodríguez Aniceto, "El poema latino, 'Prefacio de Almería,'" Boletín de la Biblioteca Menédez y Pelayo, XIII (January-March, 1931), 141-144.

3. Sánchez Belda, p. lxxv.

4. Fransisco de Berganza, Antigüedades de España (2 vols.; Madrid, 1719-1721), II, 590-624.

5. Rodríguez Aniceto, p. 141 and 143.

6. Sánchez Belda, p. lxxiii.

7. R. Ewald, "Reise nach Spanien im Winter von 1878 auf 1879," Neues Archiv der Gesellschaft für ältere Deutsche Geschichtskunde, VI (January, 1881), 303.

8. Rodríguez Aniceto, p. 141.

9. Zacarías García Villada, Crónica de Alfonso III (Madrid: Centro de Estudios Históricos, 1924), p. 18.

10. Benito Sáanchez Alonso, Crónica del Obispo Don Pelayo (Madrid: Centro de Estudios Históricos, 1924), pp. 20-21.

11. Sánchez Belda, p. lxxi.

12. Francisco Santos Coco, Historia silense (Madrid: Sucesores de Rivadenerya, 1921), pp. xvi-xvii.

13. Sánchez Belda, p. lxxvii.

14. Rodríguez Aniceto, pp. 142-144.

15. Sánchez Belda, p. lxxxiv.